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Frontier to FCC: Value of Gray Stations Sticking Point in Retrans Talks

Gray Television
(Image credit: Gray Television)

WASHINGTON—After Gray Television’s WWSB-TV was pulled from Frontier Communications channel lineups on Dec. 18, Gray TV made an official complaint that Frontier has not negotiated in good faith on a new retransmission agreement. However, as detailed in a response to the allegations, Frontier tells the FCC that the issue in negotiations is the gap in perceived value of the Gray TV station.

Gray’s allegations specifically argue that Frontier failed to negotiate in good faith and failed to notify customers “as soon as possible” once Frontier knew it would no longer have Gray TV’s consent to retransmit WWSB. However, according to Frontier’s filing to the commission, it participated in 25 days of negotiations and made three offers to have WWSB return to its lineup.

“The simple fact is that Frontier and Gray disagree over the value of Grays’ stations,” the filing reads. “... Gray now cries foul because Frontier did not agree with the financial terms that Gray wanted to force on Frontier and its customers.” Frontier argues that just because the two sides differed on terms is not a lack of good faith.

According to Frontier, Gray's claim that Frontier had known for a month that it would not extend its retransmission agreement and, per Fronter, that it removed Gray’s stations from its online channel guides several weeks before the deal expired or even negotiations began is inaccurate. Frontier says that it did not update its customer-facing channel guide until shortly after the agreement had expired, adhering FCC requirements.

Back in September, the FCC updated its notification rules in regard to carriage disruptions, which gave cable ops providers more flexibility.

“This retransmission consent negotiation was no different than the hundreds of other negotiations across the cable television industry,” Frontier said. “Gray’s complaint is simply an attempt by a broadcaster to add additional leverage to the retransmission consent process – either accept our last offer or we will claim that all your offers we rejected were fake and you never meant to reach agreement. Ultimately, the parties could not reach an agreement on the value of the stations but that does not render the negotiations a façade on Frontier’s end. The Commission should deny the Complaint.”

The full Frontier response is available online